Blackening chicken and fish can be a lot of fun, especially if you like smoke and flames (read the helpful tips below). Most of the time you hear of blackened chicken, blackened salmon, and blackened catfish. That’s because they’re a tender meat that will still hold together under the intense blackening process. You can blacken other meats as well, but you’ll want to be sure they’re thinly sliced.
Before we get started on the actual process, here are a few tips to achieve the best blackening results.
- Use a cast iron skillet. These truly are the best for blackening. They can stand the intense prolonged heat and provide excellent flavor for your chicken or fish, whereas other pans may warp. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet and still want to blacken your meat, do not use a non-stick pan, instead use a thick-bottomed pan meant for higher heats.
- Keep your food cool before blackening. Butter and oils will stick better to a cool piece of chicken and fish.
- Open all your windows and turn on the fans. Blackening food creates a lot of smoke and sometimes some flames.
- Keep your filets around 1/2″ thick. If they’re any thicker they may not cook all the way through.
- Make sure you use a thick oven mitt or thick hot pads because your pan is going to get really hot.
To make blackened chicken or blackened fish
- Heat your cast-iron skillet to a high temperature.
- Meanwhile, create a butter & spice mixture. Melt enough butter (use a microwave-safe pie plate) to coat all the meat your making on both sides, and then a few tablespoons extra to spare. Add your favorite chicken or fish spices to the butter and mix it up well. The blackening is caused by the butter charring in the pan, and the spices will add to the flavor. Cajun spices are the most popular for blackening. You can also buy a blackening seasoning from the grocery store. Don’t use fresh herbs, they instantly burn and turn bitter.
- Pat your chicken or fish dry to help your butter and spice mixture stick to the meat better.
- Dip the meat into your melted butter and spice mixture. At this point, you can add a little extra spices to your meat, but don’t set it down, because you’ll remove the butter from the meat.
- Place the meat in the pre-heated HOT cast iron skillet. Be prepared for a lot of smoke and maybe some flames.
- This step is optional: Immediately after laying your meat in the skillet, spoon another tablespoon of your butter and spice mixture over the fish. Be prepared for a billowing pillar of smoke and possible flames.
- Allow the meat to cook for about 3 minutes (depends on how thick it is), then flip it over (add another tablespoon of butter if you want) and cook it for another three minutes.
- When the food is done cooking, you can add additional spices or lime (or lemon) juice if you wish. As a suggestion, also try adding lime juice to your butter and spice mixture.
With a little bit of practice and a smokey house later, you’ll be a pro at cooking your own blackened chicken, blackened salmon, and blackened catfish.